sfpd_cityhall.jpgIt’s not polite to brag, and it’s certainly impolite for the head of the city’s police officers union to brag about how little his union gave up during negotiations to settle the city’s budget deficit, balanced as it was on labor’s backs.

But that’s what Police Officers Association president Gary Delagnes is doing — in print, no less.

As layoffs, salary cuts and freezes and other “givebacks” from labor unions balanced San Francisco’s $483 million budget deficit, cops’ salaries will steadily increase, going up by 6.5 percent over the next 18 months, Delagnes wrote in the July issue of the POA Journal.

“The reality is, we have managed to hold onto a 9% raise over the next 18 months while making only 2.5 % in concessions,” wrote Delagnes, addressing police officers unhappy with the cops’ budget deal. “A net gain of 6.5 % over the next 18 months at a time when cities like Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego are GIVING BACK [Delagnes’s emphasis] anywhere from 8 to 15 %.”

Delagnes is known to be neither quiet nor politic, but given the audience of the POA Journal — half of his “President’s Message” is concerned with the 530 officers who voted against ratifying the budget deal (to 946 in favor), at least one of whom, an unnamed Mission Station officer, was so incensed as to send Delagnes an anonymous e-mail calling him a “liar” who “sold us upriver” — his statements are probably intended to sound more soothing than boastful.

But in the context of Thursday’s budget signing “celebration,” when Mayor Gavin Newsom thanked labor again and again for giving up jobs and benefits so that the city could save $250 million over two years, those words ring a little differently.

Not in Delagnes’s view. “My people are police officers — they’re not painters, plumbers or carpenters,” he told the Appeal on Friday. “Comparing police officers to other trades is ridiculous.”

“We signed a contract with the city four years ago, and three out of four of those years the city has come back to us for concessions, and every year we’ve made concessions,’ he added. But the times of concessions are over — Delagnes told the Appeal that he will under no circumstances open up the contract again. “The city signed a contract — it’s their job to honor it. It’s not our job to solve their budget crisis because they can’t handle their money.”

In the meantime, the progressive narrative in which the city’s public safety unions — the POA and Firefighters’ Local 798 — appear to give back the least continues. No cops and firefighters have been laid off, and in fact their payrolls have increased; how much longer can the city — which faces another giant deficit next year — keep this up?

“When looking at Delagnes’s boasts in the POA Journal, it appears the labor givebacks have not been applied equally or proportionately,” said Supervisor John Avalos, chairman of the Board of Supervisors’s Budget and Finance Committee.

“POA member salaries are much higher than salaries of most other city employees, employees who will not be able to brag about a 6.5 % raise over the next 18 months.”

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  • Greg Dewar

    When TWU’s leaders say “it’s not our job to fix the budget” (as they did in the WSJ the other day) everyone screams bloody murder.

    When the POA does the same, they get away with it. Hmm.

    Also, don’t forget the HUGE raise police got in 2007 when Newsom was up for re-election, busting the budget out big time.

  • Greg Dewar

    When TWU’s leaders say “it’s not our job to fix the budget” (as they did in the WSJ the other day) everyone screams bloody murder.

    When the POA does the same, they get away with it. Hmm.

    Also, don’t forget the HUGE raise police got in 2007 when Newsom was up for re-election, busting the budget out big time.

  • Eve Batey

    Well, I don’t have a dog in this fight, so maybe I’m just being shit-disturbery. But. I sort of assume a lot of cops might say that they deserve more than the average city employee because of the demanding nature of their jobs. The cliche, I guess, is “cops get shot at which janitors mop floors!” or whatever.

    What do you think, does that argument hold water?

  • Eve Batey

    Well, I don’t have a dog in this fight, so maybe I’m just being shit-disturbery. But. I sort of assume a lot of cops might say that they deserve more than the average city employee because of the demanding nature of their jobs. The cliche, I guess, is “cops get shot at which janitors mop floors!” or whatever.

    What do you think, does that argument hold water?

  • Equiman

    To Eve’s question:

    Yes, the work of Police in San Francisco is very demanding.
    The work of S.F. Firefighters is demanding, but less demanding than Police. That’s my opinion.
    Yet, Police & Fire have Parity in wages.
    One reason you can tell that firefighting in San Francisco is a more desirable job is that when a Test is given for the Fire Department, the City receives 10,000 applications.
    The SF Police have to really recruit in order to find enough qualified applicants.

    OK, that said, more to your question regarding higher wages for Police & Fire work.

    Repeating myself, both are demanding. However, let’s look at supply and demand.
    If 10,000 people want to be firefighters and the only qualification is a GED and be 21
    to take the test, why do we need such high wages to attract applicants?

    I would bet if you cut starting pay in half, you would still get 5-7 thousand applicants who have at least a GED and are at least 21. If you took the 100 best from that large a group, you would hire 100 very good people.

    The question “Do Police and Fire deserve more money because of the nature of their job than other GED and 21 years of age requirement jobs?” should always be answered “Yes.”

    But let’s pose another question:

    How much should a City Attorney be paid who needs a minimum of 7 years of advanced education and passing the California State Bar in order to apply?
    Would you have 10,000 applicants? Or would you have 100?

    What about a Physician for the City? How much should he or she be paid?
    Does the fact that they need perhaps 9 years of schooling and residency and passing State Boards play into a pay advantage over the GED and 21 year old Public Safety
    worker? I think most would say “Yes.”

    How many would apply for a Physician’s job? 25? 40?

    Some cost of a commodity (in this case a person’s labor) should be based on supply & demand.

    “Dr. Terrazas currently serves as the Department Physician for the San Francisco Fire Department. His is board certification in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and obtained a Master of Public Health degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania.”

    Yet, in 2009, 330 San Francisco firefighters made more than Dr. Terrazas who made $155,000.

    Because of this statistic, I believe the question that should be asked is, “Are we paying firefighters too much or Doctors too little?

  • Equiman

    To Eve’s question:

    Yes, the work of Police in San Francisco is very demanding.
    The work of S.F. Firefighters is demanding, but less demanding than Police. That’s my opinion.
    Yet, Police & Fire have Parity in wages.
    One reason you can tell that firefighting in San Francisco is a more desirable job is that when a Test is given for the Fire Department, the City receives 10,000 applications.
    The SF Police have to really recruit in order to find enough qualified applicants.

    OK, that said, more to your question regarding higher wages for Police & Fire work.

    Repeating myself, both are demanding. However, let’s look at supply and demand.
    If 10,000 people want to be firefighters and the only qualification is a GED and be 21
    to take the test, why do we need such high wages to attract applicants?

    I would bet if you cut starting pay in half, you would still get 5-7 thousand applicants who have at least a GED and are at least 21. If you took the 100 best from that large a group, you would hire 100 very good people.

    The question “Do Police and Fire deserve more money because of the nature of their job than other GED and 21 years of age requirement jobs?” should always be answered “Yes.”

    But let’s pose another question:

    How much should a City Attorney be paid who needs a minimum of 7 years of advanced education and passing the California State Bar in order to apply?
    Would you have 10,000 applicants? Or would you have 100?

    What about a Physician for the City? How much should he or she be paid?
    Does the fact that they need perhaps 9 years of schooling and residency and passing State Boards play into a pay advantage over the GED and 21 year old Public Safety
    worker? I think most would say “Yes.”

    How many would apply for a Physician’s job? 25? 40?

    Some cost of a commodity (in this case a person’s labor) should be based on supply & demand.

    “Dr. Terrazas currently serves as the Department Physician for the San Francisco Fire Department. His is board certification in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and obtained a Master of Public Health degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania.”

    Yet, in 2009, 330 San Francisco firefighters made more than Dr. Terrazas who made $155,000.

    Because of this statistic, I believe the question that should be asked is, “Are we paying firefighters too much or Doctors too little?